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 Selected story in full
11 July 2018
Labour failing in basic duty to question how Croydon Council operates

Labour councillors have all but stopped scrutinising the Council administration, an information request has revealed.

Since 2016 there has been a 90 per cent drop in the number of questions Labour councillors have submitted to the Cabinet – comprised of 11 senior councillors who dictate policy for the whole borough.

Council Questions are a vital tool for backbench councillors to hold policymakers to account, finding out crucial information that reveals the impact of their decisions on the lives of residents right across Croydon.

1,442 written questions have been asked since 2014. Of them, 71 per cent were asked by Conservative councillors - just 29 per cent by Labour.

In May 2016 Labour introduced a series of ‘democratic reforms’ which included changes to the process of asking written questions. Since then the percentage of Labour councillors asking written questions has dropped by 90 per cent. Of those that have been sent in 87 per cent were submitted by Conservative councillors with a paltry 13 per cent asked by Labour.

But that’s not all – even when councillors have asked questions, the answers have more often than not come back late.

As part of the reform package, Labour made a commitment to have all answers back to councillors no later than three weeks after the question was submitted.

Since October 2016 (when records began) more than 55 per cent of answers came back late – some many months late:

  • Cllr Jeet Bains was made to wait four months for a reply about sporting provision in Croydon
  • Cllr Lynne Hale had to wait three months when she asked a question about care provision for our most vulnerable children
  • Cllr Yvette Hopley sent in a question about adult social care and didn’t receive a reply until three months had passed

Cllr Mario Creatura, Conservative Chief Whip, comments: “Labour councillors appear to have given up one of their core functions: to scrutinise the decisions of the Council and hold policymakers to account.

“Councillors exist to ensure the ruling administration are making the right choices for our town. To learn that Labour are refusing to actively ask questions is deeply disappointing.

“Only by continually asking questions do we get to the bottom of how policies really are impacting the lives of people in Croydon. For Labour to have given up scrutinising what they are doing to our town is a huge dereliction of duty – they should be ashamed.”

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